Before I read Outcasts, I wasn’t familiar with the name Nick Wisseman. Nor was I familiar with venues where these stories first appeared, places such as Bewildering Stories. It’s a name I’m going to remember, though. And I’m going to check Bewildeirng Stories out. If everything they publish is this good, I’m going put that venue on my regular reading list.
When Mr. Wisseman emailed me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing his book, I said yes. I’ve written before that taking a chance on an unknown author is a gamble. Sometimes it’s not a gamble that pays off (and you usually won’t see the results of those gambles written about here). Other times, you hit the jackpot. Books like this one are why I review self-published authors I’ve never heard of before.
“Branded Faith” tells of a messiah who rejects being a savior yet can’t escape the power he’s been given to do both good and evil.
In “Smile”, a teenaged girl discovers that she’s not as invisible as she thought she was when a hidden observer develops the photo he took of her and she begins to vanish.
“Permanence” ventures into Lord of the Flies territory a bit when a group of young soldiers find themselves stranded on a desert island during wartime.
A man discovers he can go back in time and change the history of his love life, but only during sex in “Time Trick”.
“Love and World Eaters” is about a young woman working in the Chicago Field Museum who develops the ability to see past events associated with the artifacts she touches. This was one of my favorites
“Splintered” is what happens when different realities begin to overlap.
“Charted Waters” deals with what happens when the real world takes on the characteristics of maps.
A girl’s diorama comes to life, showing her the family secrets, in “Low-Limb Climb”, another favorite.
“Revisions” involves a group of time travelers who keep the timeline stable by making sure massacres and bloodbaths happen.
The thing I found most refreshing about these stories is the Wisseman avoids many obvious cliches. I rarely knew where he was going. Even when the idea at the core of the story wasn’t earth-shaking, the execution more than made up for it. This was one of the most original collections I’ve read in quite a while. Wisseman is one of those writers who make it look easy, showing a mastery of word, phrase, and pacing I would expect from a mature author rather than someone in the beginning stages of his career.
I highly recommend this one.
Thanks are due to Nick Wisseman for providing a copy of Outcasts.